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Mobile mammography nonprofit that offers free exams for women now needs help

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“The ceiling panels are coming down, the wallpaper is coming off and the floors are lifting,” Mary Solomon showed us.

Every day, Mary Solomon sees her life's project deteriorating.

“We’re doing what we can to continue to serve," she explained. "We want to be on the road so we don’t disappoint any woman out there.”

She runs the ScanVan, a free mobile mammography unit serving all five boroughs.

“Women are never turned away, we don’t care if a patient is insured, uninsured, or poorly insured," she described. "If she's eligible for a mammography and has not been screened, we will screen her.”

Related: How to get your FREE mammogram and breast exam

A mission that started about 30 years ago by her mom, after learning her grandmother had breast cancer.

“My mother was inspired, she had to do something and this was what resulted as the inspiration,” Solomon said. “It was called, at the time, Women's Outreach Network.”

In 2008, they joined forces with Project Renewal, a NYC nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income men and women.

“Patients are screened here on board the ScanVan, they’re provided with a clinical breast exam and mammogram," she said. "If either of those come back with an abnormality, our navigation team kicks in and in almost every neighborhood we have a partner facility that works with us as a diagnostics center.”

They truly follow through with every patient.

“It was cancer, and I’m like what how can that little thing be cancer?” Christal Putkowski said.

Christal Putkowski remembers the moment her world changed.

"I can’t even tell you, I just walked around saying I’m dead, I’m dead,” she remembered.

She was 62 when she visited the ScanVan for the first time. Screens found a small calcification in her breast.

“A couple days later they did a sonogram and found a large mass up against my chest wall,” she described. "Then Mary suggested a surgeon that said if it were up against the chest wall on one side, it’d be on the other side.”

The wife and mother elected for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. Three years later and cancer free, she says she owes her life to Mary and the ScanVan.

“Thank god for them!” she smiled.

And they hope to continue helping women each year.

“The basic wall structure is as week as it’s ever been,” Solomon continued showing us.

But, that's proving to be more difficult and why they are hoping to receive a grant from Governor Cuomo as part of his 'Get Screened, No Excuses' campaign.

"It would get us a whole new van and brand new equipment," Solomon explained. "This is very exciting, it’s very timely, and it’s something that’s so needed.”

And it's something ScanVan survivors surely are willing to put up a fight for.

“He made the commitment to breast cancer, well show me the money honey,” Putkowski laughed.


Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi

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